The Peter Pan stallion Black Toney has the most Kentucky Derby starters in the race's 144-year history

The Peter Pan stallion Black Toney has the most Kentucky Derby starters in the race's 144-year history

The Blood-Horse Library

Scat Daddy a Rare Sire with Four KY Derby Starters

Three stallions in Kentucky Derby history have had four starters in the same year.

Ashford Stud's late Scat Daddy is a rarity among sires represented by a starter in the 144-year history of the Kentucky Derby (G1). With four entrants headed to the starting gate in America's premier class May 5, he will become the first stallion since 1923 to be represented by as many Derby starters and is one of only three sires in the race's history to have that many starters in one race.

Scat Daddy's four contenders are 3-1 morning-line favorite Justify, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1); 5-1 second choice Mendelssohn, winner of the UAE Derby Sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2); Flameaway, who won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and was second in the both the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2); and Combatant, who was second in the Southwest Stakes (G3) and third in the Rebel Stakes (G2).

The last sire with four Derby starters competing against one another was the imported French stallion Chicle in 1923 when 21 horses left the starting gate, making it the largest Derby field to that point in the race's history. Representing Chicle were the gelding Enchantment, Rialto, Picketer, and another gelded son, Cherry Pie. They finished sixth, seventh, 15th, and 20th, respectively. 

Chicle, who was notoriously ill-tempered according to Abigail Anderson's "The Vault: Horse Racing Past and Present," is the sire of Mother Goose, who beat colts in the 1924 Belmont Futurity on her way to winning 2-year-old filly championship honors. Mother Goose is the fourth dam of influential stallion Northern Dancer. Chicle went on to have more Derby starters—one each in 1928, 1929, and 1935—but Enchantment's sixth-place finish would be the best Derby finish by the sire's progeny.

The only other sire with four starters in the same race was Enquirer, who accomplished the feat twice—in 1875 (the first running of the Kentucky Derby) and 1878. Enquirer, a son of Leamington, was represented in the first Derby by Bill Bruce, Searcher, Enlister, and McCreery, who finished seventh, ninth, 11th, and 12th, respectively. Leamington made his mark in that first Derby anyway as the sire of the winner, Aristides.

Enquirer's quartet of challengers in 1878 made up nearly half of the nine-horse field and he still didn't get a winner. His starters that year were Solicitor, McHenry, Respond, and Earl of Beaconsfield, who finished fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth, respectively. 

William Giles Harding's Belle Meade Plantation near Nashville, Tenn., stood Enquirer from 1880-1895 alongside several of the nation's top Thoroughbred stallions—Bonnie Scotland, Bramble, Great Tom, Luke Blackburn, and Vandal, who all had starters in the Derby. Bramble only had one, but it was 1896 winner Ben Brush. Luke Blackburn and Vandal both had runners-up with Proctor Knott (1889) and Volcano (1875), respectively.

Since the inaugural running of the Derby, 1,029 stallions have been represented by a Derby contender, with 355 (34%) of these sires having two or more lifetime starters.

Sires with Three or More Kentucky Derby (G1) Starters, 1875-2018

The sire with the most Derby contenders to date is Col. E.R. Bradley's record-setting stakes winner Black Toney, who had 16 offspring represent him in the classic, with two winners—Black Gold (1924) and Brokers Tip (1933). The son of Peter Pan had three runners-up in Black Servant (1921), Captain Hal (1925), and Bimelech (1940). 

When Black Toney retired to stud at Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm in 1918, Bradley's breeding operation was of "a fairly modest scale," according to an article published in the May 21, 1938, issue of The Blood-Horse honoring Black Toney, who had just been pensioned. The stallion could not have gotten off to weaker start.

"His advertised fee was $50, and very few breeders were interested in sending mares to him," The Blood-Horse reported. "He had stood for 'private contract' in this two earlier seasons, but not even the prospect of a free season was attractive." So poor was the patronage of the son of Peter Pan that 13 foals made up his first three crops, according to The Blood-Horse.

Out of Black Toney's four first-crop foals, however, three became winners and a filly named Miss Jemima won the Clipsetta, Flash, and East View stakes. His second crop of three foals included Derby runner-up Black Servant, while this fifth crop produced Derby winner Black Gold. Out of 221 foals, Black Toney sired 18.1% stakes winners. His progeny earned more than $1.75 million and averaged $8,176 per foal, which was among the highest of U.S. stallions at the time. Black Toney would never become the leading U.S. sire, but he ranked second behind Sir Gallahad III in 1933 and was the leading sire that year by first-place money with $97,748 in total purses from 25 winners in 102 races.

Black Toney died at Idle Hour in 1938 at age 27.

"Olin Gentry, manager of Col. E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm, passed by the paddock of the farm's most honored pensioner, Black Toney, about 7 o'clock on the morning of Sept. 19, (and) noted that the old horse was standing by the fence, apparently in his usual good health. Five minutes later Black Toney's heart stopped beating and he died without a struggle," wrote The Blood-Horse.

Enquirer is a close second to Black Toney by Derby starters with 15, and among the stallions with 10 or more, the only modern-age stallion is Lane's End's own honored pensioner A.P. Indy with 11 starters. A.P. Indy's best performer has been Aptitude, who finished second in 2000 to Fusaichi Pegasus 

Other modern-era stallions among the 35 with seven or more starters to date include Gainesway's top sire Tapit  (nine), Ashford's late champion sire Giant's Causeway  (eight), and with seven apiece are Scat Daddy, WinStar Farm's Distorted Humor  and Tiznow , Taylor Made Stallions' late sire Unbridled's Song, and Spendthrift Farm's Malibu Moon .

Tapit's best performers to date are a three-way tie with Frosted  (2015), Mohaymen  (2016), and Normandy Invasion  (2013), who all finished fourth in the Derby. Giant's Causeway's best performer is Creative Cause , who was fifth in 2012.

Distorted Humor had a Derby winner in his first crop with gelding Funny Cide in 2003, and Malibu Moon has a Derby winner in Orb , who wore roses in 2013. Unbridled's Song's best runner was ill-fated Eight Belles, second in 2008; Tiznow's best performer so far is Colonel John, who finished sixth in 2008; and, Scat Daddy's best runner to date has been Daddy Nose Best , the 10th-placed finisher in 2012. 

Among some of the most influential sires since the 1960s, it is interesting to see that Bold Ruler has been represented by only four Derby entrants, but he got an exceptionally good one in 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

In the head-to-head between Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector gets the edge with seven starters to one for Northern Dancer. Mr. Prospector's best performers include Fusaichi Pegasus and runner-up Forty Niner (1988). Northern Dancer's sole starter was Giboulee, who finished seventh in 1977.